As I reflect back on my life as a follower of Jesus, I can say I have faithfully attended church, I have worshipped at church and have been involved in church, I have even helped to plant a church, but I do not think I have ever really participated in church. One of the outstanding features of this mingling of cultures is the fact that our pastor calls, urges, even requires us to join in every Wednesday and Sunday as he preaches the Word. Over the course of the past few months, he has patiently taught us to respond when he preaches, to praise when he worships, to say so! when the Spirit is leading or teaching, convicting or comforting.
Sometimes, aware of our collective lack of participation, Pastor Chuck stops and asked us why—why so solemn, why so anxious, why so sad? Even when his questions are met with profound silence, he persists—until someone eventually responds. Then, as one person shares a burden, another intercedes; as another shares a need, someone else is there to meet the need. Soon the whole congregation is participating in amazing and tangible ways.
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5).
Peter reminds us that as followers of Jesus, born again into a whole new family, we are like living stones, joined together as a spiritual house, with Christ Jesus as our cornerstone. We are also part of the holy priesthood—called to offer spiritual sacrifices to God—together. We are called to participate: to worship and give thanks, to pray and intercede, to embrace with family-style hugs, and to generously give of ourselves. Rebuild Fellowship has colorized this passage for me in oh so many ways.
Fascinatingly, the hardest thing for me to give sometimes is myself. It’s risky to speak up, it’s embarrassing to cry, it’s exhausting to intercede. Over the years I can see I had gotten used to attending, and, for the first time in a long time, I look so forward to participating in church.
We are better together indeed.